In a perfect world, every day would have ideal conditions for fishing. But when the water is fast moving, dirty or muddy, it can be a challenge for even the most experienced fly fishermen.
Still, that’s one of the beautiful things about fly fishing – every day is unique and presents different challenges, so how can you tackle dirty or muddy water head-on and still have a successful day on the water?
Wild Water Fly Fishing is here to break down the proven tips for fly fishing in dirty and muddy water, so you’re always prepared and ready for the challenge! We’ll also cover the difference between dirty and muddy water, the best techniques, and what supplies and fishing gear will optimize your day when water conditions aren’t ideal.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DIRTY VS. MUDDY WATER
Believe it or not: there is a difference between dirty and muddy water, and each condition presents challenges.
Imagine you have a 12-inch ruler that you insert vertically into shallow water. (You can also do this the next time you’re fly fishing and aren’t sure if the water is dirty or muddy.)
Let’s say you can only see the ruler for half its length; the water is substantially cloudy. Even if most of the screed can be seen, the water is still dirty. That being said, any time large amounts of debris and sediment push downstream, causing dirty or even muddy water, it can change the way you fly fish if you want to experience quality catches.
HOW DIRTY AND MUDDY WATER AFFECTS FLY FISHING
If the visibility of the water is low, it is likely that the water level is also high and moving quickly. These conditions create what is known as high water or flooding rivers or streams.
Under these conditions, fish have a difficult time deciphering what is food and what is a threat, so they are likely to stray towards the edges of a stream, along the banks or side channels, where the water is softer. than average currents. The fish also stick close to the bottom, where the water is slower, which helps them not to work as hard to hold their position in the face of such torrential currents.
In high, muddy water, you can also target fish in river eddies or sections of the river that move upstream and eddy in a reverse current.
TIPS FOR FLY FISHING IN DIRTY AND MUDDY WATERS
Don’t let dirty or muddy water stop you from enjoying what you love. When you’re faced with dirty or muddy water, you have to change your technique, and by following these tips for fly fishing in adverse conditions, you can still have quality outings.
CHOOSE A HEAVY POINT AND A LEADER
When fly fishing in dirty or high muddy water, having extra weight on the line can help you target fish lurking on the bottom of river banks and side channels by keeping flies creeping in your lane. Add extra weight to your leader and choose a heavier tippet. Under these conditions, the fish are not so shy.
Tippets and leaders come in a variety of diameters. When visibility is low and water levels are high, use a tippet and leader of at least 3X or higher. You can add a split rise a couple of inches above your fly to go down faster. By increasing the strength of your tippet and leader, you’ll have an easier time catching fish in fast-moving, dirty water. But keep in mind that the heavier the leader, the slower it will sink to the bottom, so be patient.
When faced with these harsh conditions, it is essential to use a heavier rod. The Wild Water Deluxe 5/6 fly fishing kit with a heavier tippet or leader described above should suffice.
Larger, bulkier flies are almost always more effective at attracting fish in low visibility conditions. The faster the water, the heavier the fly needs to be to help produce the most vibration through murky currents. But there’s more you need to customize your lure on a day when conditions are dirty or muddy. We’ll explore that next.
STRATEGIZE YOUR FLY
The dirtier the water, the flashier you want your flies to be. Stay away from natural brown or green tones, as they can resemble the color of dirty or muddy water. Black and red are the best colors because they accentuate the silhouette of the fly, making it more noticeable to fish.
Streamers and nymphs can also be helpful. Nymphs or streamers that have vibrant patterns and colors should be enough to grab the fish’s attention.
A streamer can be more effective if you are going to fish at a greater distance. Because visibility is a bit better in dirty water than in muddy water, you don’t necessarily need to use the flashier streamers or nymphs. As long as you avoid fast currents in the middle of the river or stream and stay closer to side channels, a patterned or colored lure should suffice.
Noisy flies can also attract fish in high, murky water. Tying some clicking or rattling brass beads, or mylar tubing, to your line can add noise to your flies.
THROW HALF YOUR NORMAL DISTANCE
When visibility is low, you should throw half the distance you normally would. Make shorter drifts and cast just a few more inches out. Because the fish will be closer to the shore, there is less need to wade. Fish can only see a few inches in front of them in muddy conditions.
With streamers, you’ll want to move a bit faster than with nymphs. You will want to give the fish more time to spot your fly when visibility is low or when the fish seek refuge at the bottom of a river bank.
DON’T LET DIRTY OR MUDDY WATER STOP YOU FROM FLY FISHING
As a fly fisherman, you will encounter dirty and muddy water at some point, but you shouldn’t let that put you off. By following these tips for fly fishing in these challenging conditions, you can still have a successful and memorable day on the water.
For more information on wild water fly fishing and its products, please contact Dena Vick, [email protected].
About Wild Water Fly Fishing
Wild Water Fly Fishing represents a dedication to bringing friends and family together by providing them with everything they will need to prepare for a trip to the lake. Whether you are a parent or grandparent wanting to nurture a child’s interest in fly fishing, Wild Water offers the best tools to make your fly fishing trip an unforgettable experience. Wild Water Fly Fishing is the only company that focuses exclusively on affordable and easy to use fly fishing starter packs for all species of fish.